The difference between credit and debit cards

difference between credit card and debit card What is

We use bank cards every day in our life. But what is a debit card, and how is it different from a credit card? This article will precisely reveal answers to those questions and let you distinguish between a debit card and a credit card.

Let’s dive into the world of these bank cards and find out all the critical differences between them.

What are debit and credit cards?

When it comes to making purchases and withdrawing cash from ATMs’, you have the option to use either a credit or a debit card. But what is the difference between these two types of cards, and which one is best for you?

What is a debit card?

Debit cards are issued by banks and can be linked to a checking or savings account. They usually have the logo of a credit or debit card company, such as a MasterCard or Visa, and can be used wherever these cards are accepted.

Debit cards help withdraw cash from an ATM, purchase goods and services at point-of-sale terminals, or make purchases online. When you use a debit card, the funds are deducted from your account. The funds are transferred from the consumer’s bank account to the merchant’s account at the time of the transaction.

One of the main benefits of using a debit card is that you are more likely to spend your money wisely, as you can only spend up to the available funds in your account. Additionally, debit cards often have lower fees vs. credit cards, and some financial institutions even offer rewards or cashback programs.

Unlike credit cards, debit cards do not offer a line of credit, so you can only spend what you have in your bank account. It is also an excellent way to monitor your account regularly to lessen the chances of fraud and ensure that all transactions are correct.

What is a credit card?

Unlike a debit card, a credit card allows you to borrow money from the issuing bank up to a specific limit (known as a credit limit) to make purchases or withdraw cash. It is a short-term loan that the bank provides to you as a cardholder.

One of the main advantages of having a credit card is its convenience. It allows you to make purchases or withdraw cash without carrying large amounts. Additionally, a credit card often comes with various rewards and benefits, such as cashback, points, or discounts on certain purchases.

When using a credit card, it is essential to comprehend its interest rate and associated fees. Interest is the cost of borrowing money, usually expressed as an Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The APR will vary depending on the card issuer, the type of card, and the cardholder’s creditworthiness.

Another important aspect of credit card usage is the credit score. A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness based on your credit history. It is used by lenders, landlords, and other financial institutions to evaluate your ability to pay. A good credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates and terms on loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

It is imperative to manage credit card debt responsibly. You should be paying off the balance in full each month and avoid using more credit than you can afford to pay off. It avoids being charged late fees and getting your credit score negatively affected.

A credit card vs. a debit card can provide a convenient way to make purchases and access cash, but it is vitally important to use them responsibly. That includes understanding the interest rate, fees, and rewards associated with the card, managing credit card debt, and maintaining a good credit score. By doing so, you can enjoy the benefits of credit card usage while avoiding the potential pitfalls.

Key differences between a credit card and a debit card

cradit and debit cards
Credit and debit cards are payment methods that allow you to make purchases without using cash. However, there are several distinct differences between the two types of cards.

Let’s drill down to the differences between a credit card and a debit card one by one:

  1. Funding source. Debit cards are linked to an individual’s checking or savings account, while credit cards have a line of credit that extends to the user. That means when a purchase initiates with a debit card, the funds are immediately withdrawn from the linked account, while a credit card purchase is a loan that one must pay.
  2. Credit history. Credit cards require a credit check and are only issued to individuals with a good credit history. Conversely, debit cards do not require a credit check, and banks or other financial institutions can issue them to anyone with a checking or savings account.
  3. Interest rates. Credit card purchases come with interest rates that vary depending on the card and the individual’s credit score. Debit card purchases do not come with interest rates, as the funds are withdrawn immediately from the linked account.
  4. Rewards & Benefits. Credit cards often come with rewards and benefits such as cashback, points, and travel perks. However, it’s not so typical for Debit cards to offer rewards and benefits.
  5. Fraud protection. Credit cards generally offer better fraud protection than debit cards. If a credit card gets misused for fraudulent purposes, the individual is not responsible for the charges, and the card issuer will work to rectify the situation.
    On the other hand, if someone uses a debit card for fraudulent purposes, the individual’s account can face limits, the funds can be restricted, and it may take several days or weeks to recover the funds.
  6. Credit building. Credit cards can help individuals build their credit history and credit score as long as they use them responsibly and associated payments are submitted on time. Debit cards do not impact an individual’s credit history or credit score.

In summary, a credit card or a debit card is a helpful payment tool that one can use for various purposes. Still, it’s paramount to understand the critical differences in funding sources, credit requirements, interest rates, rewards, and fraud protection explained above.

Special considerations

Debit and credit cards are payment methods that allow you to make purchases without using cash. However, there are some compulsory debit and credit card differences that you must grasp.

Special considerations for debit and credit cards include:

  • Security: Both debit and credit cards can be subject to fraud. Protecting your card information and monitoring your account for suspicious activity is crucial.
  • Fees: Debit cards typically have lower costs than credit cards, but some banks may charge for certain transactions or for using ATMs. Credit cards often have annual fees, late payment fees, and other charges.
  • Rewards: Credit cards often offer rewards programs that can include cash back, points, or other incentives. On the other hand, debit cards typically do not offer rewards programs.
  • Credit History: Using credit cards responsibly can help build a credit history, whereas debit cards do not impact credit history.

It’s paramount to consider these factors and weigh the pros and cons of using a debit or credit card before deciding which one to use.

Credit card vs. debit card example

Let’s say you have a debit card linked to your checking account at a bank. You go to a grocery store and purchase $50 worth of groceries. When you utilize your debit card to pay for the groceries, the money is transferred from your checking account to the grocery store’s account. It is a debit transaction because you are spending money from your account.

Now, let’s say you have a credit card with a limit of $1000. You use this credit card to purchase at a department store for $200. This purchase is added to your credit card balance, and you must pay it back with interest. It is a credit transaction because you borrow money from the credit card company and will be required to pay it back later.

So a debit card allows you to withdraw money from an ATM or spend it because it’s already in your account, vs. a credit card will enable you to borrow money from a bank and pay it back later.


This section discusses the most common questions about the differences between an ATM card and a debit/credit card.

What’s the main difference between debit and credit cards?

The main difference between a debit card and a credit card is how they are linked to your money. A debit card is connected directly to your checking account, and when you make a purchase, the money is automatically withdrawn from your account. On the other hand, a credit card is linked to a line of credit, and when you make a purchase, you borrow money from the credit card issuer.

Which is better, a credit card or a debit card?

The answer to this question depends on your financial situation and spending habits. A debit card may be better if you struggle to manage credit card debt. However, if you are someone who can responsibly manage credit card debt, a credit card may be the better option.

Is a credit card safer than a debit card?

Both debit cards and credit cards offer protection against fraud and unauthorized purchases. With a debit card, if your card is stolen and used for fraudulent purchases, you could be liable for the entire amount of the charges. However, you are not responsible for the charges if your credit card is stolen and used for fraudulent purchases.

Can I Use a Credit Card as a Debit Card?

Yes, you can use a credit card as a debit card by selecting the “credit” option and entering your identification number (PIN) at the point of sale. It will process the transaction as a debit transaction, deducting the funds from your checking account rather than charging them to your credit card account.

However, it’s important to note that some credit card companies may not allow you to use your credit card as a debit card or may charge additional fees for doing so. Additionally, using a credit card as a debit card may not qualify for any rewards or benefits that are associated with using the card as a credit card.

Can a debit card be used as a credit card?

A debit card can be used as a credit card if the merchant has a point-of-sale terminal that allows for “credit” transactions, but the funds will be debited from the cardholder’s checking account rather than added to a balance as a credit card would.

In addition, the transaction will require a credit or debit card with money and a personal identification number (PIN), not a signature.

Is an ATM card a credit or debit card?

An ATM card is a PIN-based card that you can only use for ATM transactions. On the other hand, debit and credit cards are more multifunctional. Thus, a debit card is also an ATM withdrawal card, but an ATM card may only sometimes be a debit or credit card.

How to know if my ATM card is a debit or credit card?

By looking at the card, you can determine if your ATM card is a debit or credit card. Debit cards will typically have the logo of a major payment network, such as Visa or MasterCard, and will also have the word “debit” written on the card.

On the other hand, credit cards usually have the word “credit” written on the card and may or may not have the logo of a payment network.


It is essential to understand what makes debit and credit cards unique. Debit cards are linked to a checking or savings account and deduct funds immediately from the account. They are an excellent way for those who want to be mindful of spending and avoid debt.

On the other hand, credit cards allow users to borrow money from the issuing bank and come with various rewards and benefits. However, it is essential to use them responsibly and be aware of the associated interest rates, fees, and credit score implications.

Choosing a debit or credit card will depend on your financial goals and habits. It is vital to weigh each option’s pros and cons before deciding.

Alex has over 9 years of experience in the financial markets. He has worked with various financial firms globally and has expertise in technical and fundamental analysis. Alex has fulfilled various roles in his 9 years of experience and has worked as an investment advisor, financial analyst, risk management officer, manager of financial planning, and compliance and internal control officer.

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